Next stop on the tabletop train

We’re back and sharing another way to finish napkins, placemats, coasters and tea towels even. Today’s featured way is reversible. Our next post will be on mitered corners.

Making your tabletop items reversible can be a way to save some time and also give them a nice weight. Where it might save you some time, it also means more yardage. However, you can choose between using a coordinating muslin (a little more cost effective) or a fun coordinating print (increases your spend a bit more).

To show you this approach, we whipped up some cocktail napkins. They make for great gifts, especially this time of year as they go quite well with bottles of wine, alcohol and other serving items. We like to throw in a recipe for our favorite cocktail as well.

Using the raw dimensions of 9 x 9 inch squares and a 1/2″ seam allowance the finished napkins end up 8 x 8 inches. These napkins are ideally done in sets of eight, but you can change that – you’re the boss!

The dimensions above allow you to get 16 squares from one yard of 44/45″ fabric, which means you can take two half-yard cuts of coordinating prints and get one set or take two one-yard cuts and get two sets. Cut the nine inch strips on the fold first (four) and then cut the widths (each row will yield four squares). With the fabrics we chose, we were able to make the set for $11. Depending on the add-on gift, the total will shift.

What you’ll need for one set:

  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat will make this much easier
  • Scissors
  • Two one-half yard cuts of coordinating cottons
  • Coordinating Thread

Cut your fabric so that you will have eight squares from each fabric.

Photo Nov 24, 9 05 34 AM

While you may pin these along the sides, given the size, you’ll often not need to and we pin these so that we don’t have to move the pins while we sew and just focus on straight lines. Also be sure that the direction of your fabrics are correct for each napkin (we often mark the direction of the print with an arrow in tailor’s chalk on the wrong side of the fabric to make sure we don’t pin it incorrectly).

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After pinning all eight, mark an opening on the bottom (opposite of the direction of your print if they’re directional), centered three inches of each side.

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Now you’re ready to sew (if you’re still working on having your 1/2″ seam allowances at corners work out, you can use a hem gauge to mark 1/2″ from each corner so you have your pivot point). Start at the mark on the right and sew 1/2″ all the way around, backstitching at the beginning and end.

Repeat on the remaining seven (great time to have a show on in the background or listen to a good podcast;)).

Trim threads, and clip your corners carefully so as not to clip into your threads. We recommend doing this in a clockwise rotation so you won’t miss one with so many and also with your blade to the right of the stitches so you’re less likely to clip into the stitches.

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Next, so you will have straight seams and have it turn out reversible, you will want to press all of your seams open. Start on side and then flip over. If you have a seam roll or a iron tool, it will be a little easier.

Once they’re all pressed, you can turn them each right side out and use a point turner (a chopstick works great) to reshape each corner. You’ll then press each side, being careful with the opening so that it doesn’t arch or slope but keeps straight.

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You’re almost there! Now you’ll topstitch close to the edge. Increase your stitch length a bit to compensate for the additional layers (check on a  twice-folded scrap to make sure you like the way the stitches will look) and position your presser foot to the edge of the fabric. If you have a needle position that can move, you can move the needle closer.

This stitch will be your final one and closes the opening.

Photo Nov 24, 11 49 40 AM

Trim your threads and you’re done!

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Wrap them up and add a little bonus gift, and you’re set for festive moments with friends and loved ones.

Next post we’ll cover mitered corners!

This method is easily adapted to other projects such as dinner napkins, tea towels, coasters or tea towels. Just take heed of your desired, finished dimensions and add in the seam allowance for your cutting dimensions.

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